Bernie Sanders’ Rhetoric is a Disservice to his Supporters
On a quiet Thursday afternoon about 3,000 of Bernie Sanders’ supporters packed into a skatepark outside of RFK Stadium in Washington, DC to watch him rally once again–many likely thinking that this could be their final time to see him before he suspends his campaign.
What was different about Thursday’s speech was, well, nothing. Filled with his normal rhetoric and fiery and inspirational pushes for equal rights and justice for all Americans, Sanders caught the attention of the crowd and continued to push his idea of the “political revolution.”
.@BernieSanders said exactly the right thing. Get through DC, take a break, get with HRC, get to work beating Trump.
— Steve Schale (@steveschale) June 9, 2016
Unfortunately, Sanders did not stray from his talking points and discuss his Thursday meeting with President Barack Obama where he reportedly indicated that he is willing to back the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. He also didn’t bring up the president’s endorsement of Clinton, which occurred just hours before he spoke. He made no mention of any of those events and no mention that it is time to unify as Democrats…instead saying that the results from California aren’t even all in yet.
So if @BernieSanders ultimately wins California (might still happen) & then Washington DC … DNC in Philly will be interesting.
— Ben Goren (@BanGaoRen) June 10, 2016
However, amidst all of the impassioned speeches and cheers from the crowd, you could sense the feeling of denial in Sanders’ voice, and you could feel that it was his last stand.
Instead of using the time and the platform to urge his supporters toward unification of the party, he further polarized them. Chants of “Never Hillary” echoed through the crowd as he spoke about big money in politics. But he is doing his supporters a grave disservice by telling them that there is still hope. The naiveté of the situation is troubling, and is going to leave a lot of die-hard supporters left feeling even more so that the entire system was against them.
Of the many people I met in the crowd, few said they are willing to switch to Clinton. Some said they would even vote for Trump, and many others said they just wouldn’t vote.
Sanders stressed that women (along with other groups) did not used to have the right to vote, yet now his silence–or in some cases contradictory rhetoric–is being inferred by many of his supporters as a signal to not exercise that privilege. By not owning up to the idea that his campaign is coming to a close, he is further hurting Clinton’s chances against Trump. As the Democratic party continues to be divided, it is hard to imagine what November will look like between Clinton and Trump.
Today, as D.C. votes, it will most likely be Sanders’ last day in the race. Even if he does not drop out, it will still signify a deficit that will not be overcome no matter how many times Sanders tries to say more people voted for him. There’s a message here for Sanders: you joined the presidential race to catalyze institutional change, but that does not mean that you can just pretend that there is a secret outcome that has been robbed from you.
— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) June 13, 2016
If Sanders chooses to stay and continues to cause division, votes will be split between the Democratic nominee and other parties, giving more power to Trump. So, if Sanders really want to see his political revolution happen, he may need to get a grip and work with Clinton this round until he gets his shot.